So it is with everything we write. One little word misspoken or misplaced can start a firestorm that spreads like wildfire and can be impossible to stop. It can cause damage beyond repair.
Sometimes authors make mistakes because they do not realize that their words can be misinterpreted. I used to do our church bulletin. One time I wrote, “Mary (fictional name) didn’t feel like coming to church Sunday.” You can imagine that Mary was not happy with the impression left by what appeared in the bulletin.
Writers make mistakes because they lack knowledge and haven’t done appropriate research. We may believe we know and have the facts about our topic. We’ve always believed it. It never enters our minds that we are mistaken.
There are times when we simply make mistakes. After my first book was released, a friend found an error so grievous that I had to get it fixed immediately. It was only one word, but it was the wrong word, and to leave it would have put me in the doghouse with a lot of my readers. It cost me a lot of money to have it removed.
There are times, however, that we are simply careless, especially on social media. I had a friend, a gentleman in his nineties, who forwarded emails to me. Some days, many emails. I’m certain he didn’t read them before he sent them to his friends. The content of one email was vindictive and contained unbecoming language. I wrote him and called his attention to what it said, and he was mortified.
Here are some guidelines Christians should consider before writing on social media:
1. Always read before you forward, like, share, and post.
2. Make certain that what you’re forwarding or writing is true and correct. Just because someone
else posted or shared it doesn’t guarantee that you should pass it on.
3. Heed Matthew 7:12 and do unto others what you would have them do to you. Is this gossip?
Would you like it written about you? Is it kind? Will it hurt someone or ruin his reputation?
4. Will what you write destroy your influence as a Christian?
5. Will what you are writing tear down the church that Jesus died for?
If we stop and think about it, we should realize that what we write can be more dangerous than what we say. Once we send an email, a tweet, or post anything on social media, we can’t take it back. What we wrote is out there for everyone to read. Remember, much wood is kindled by a small fire, and the tongue (our writing) can be a fire (James 3:5, 6, ASV). Donna Wittlif
Have you ever published something that was misunderstood and had it backfire? If so, comment and let me know what happened. Or have you written something that went over big? I'd like to know about that, too.